Amidst the rapid growth of technology, it may be difficult to keep a track of the toll it takes on the environment. While Earth Day is a global affair, the changes you can make to your lifestyle start right at home. Here are five tech approaches you can take with your smartphones, laptops, accessories and more to your bit and help the planet in the long run.
1. Extend lifespan of existing products
Sustainability is the name of the game when it comes to technology. The more life you can squeeze out of a product, the more you delay your next purchase. This may seem trivial but it becomes a significant change on a larger scale, like the other we will talk about below. Being sustainable is not just about going through with your cracked screen for two more years. Repair what’s repairable instead of going for a new product; this may be a phone, a laptop, a refrigerator, or anything else. If you are someone who works remotely and isn’t on the move much, at least for work, consider getting a desktop instead of a laptop.
If you are someone who loves tinkering with the software on phones, consider using a custom ROM to further extend the life of your smartphone. Remember, if you do need a new one, get one, but don’t upgrade if you don’t have to. Finally, sustaining devices for longer also saves you a lot of money.
2. Explore the second hand market
If getting a brand new phone or laptop is not a priority over the actual benefits that the new device offers, consider the used phone market. On platforms like Quikr and OLX, you can often find good deals on anything from mobile phones, laptops and desktop setups to accessories like keyboards, mice and gamepads.
Once you get a hang of how to shop at second-hand markets, you could grab value-for-money deals. Some pointers to look forward to are go for devices that have minimal-to-no repair history and if a device has been used for too long, feel free to bargain. When you buy off the used market, you get a new device but the amount of new devices unboxed remains the same, which is a great way to control e-waste in the longer run.
3. Check energy ratings on all appliances
Buying a new TV, fridge or washing machine? Maybe it’s an Air Conditioner that you’re looking to buy. You’ve looked at all the features, capabilities and even the colour options, but don’t forget to check the BEE energy rating on an appliance before you seal the deal.
BEE energy ratings, measured via a 5-star rating system, tell you how energy efficient a new appliance is. The higher the stars, the better, with 5-star products offering the best energy efficiency. The math is easy here, the better the stars, the lesser the environmental impact and the more money you save paying your electricity bill.
4. Clear unnecessary junk on the cloud
Cloud storage is considered the future because when something’s on the cloud, it’s not taking up space on your hard drive on phone storage. Hence, it cannot affect the physical, material aspects of the planet, right? Wrong.
In contrast to popular belief, cloud storage does take up physical space. Everything stored on the cloud from your email inbox to the terabytes of vacation photos and videos, are all stored at data centers somewhere. These data centers require large amounts of energy because unlike your computer, they have to be up and running 24×7.
Do I mean using cloud storage is bad? Definitely not. Cloud storage is helpful in many more ways than we know. These data centers are managed and run using extremely efficient measures to minimise energy usage. Also, if you think about it, a terabyte of storage for 100 people at a data center makes more sense than a hundred 1TB hard drives being made for the same use.
That said, we can do our bit in minimising unnecessary cloud storage usage by simply keeping what we need and reducing clutter. This includes deleting files you no longer need, old emails you will never open and things like that.
5. Use digital alternatives as much as possible
You’ve probably heard this before but using digital alternatives to doing anything from showing your driver’s license to paying your electricity bill has a number of benefits that revolve around ease-of-use and convenience.
However, every time you make an online transaction or decline a bank receipt at an ATM machine in favour of checking your remaining funds via a smartphone app, you also end up helping the environment. These days you can pay and receive money online, keep your important documents on your phone and also get a lot of work done from websites instead physically traveling to places. This also helps with time and your fuel costs.